The Quechee Club Welcomes Executive Chef J. Russell Bradshaw
It doesn't feel like work if you love what you do, J.
Russell Bradshaw explained after we met a few weeks after starting at the
Quechee Club as the new executive chef. With a résumé of over 30 years as a
chef and educator in clubs, hotels, and resorts all over the country, Chef
Bradshaw comes to us well-seasoned and highly qualified.
Most recently, he worked at a resort lodge in Northern Washington State where the town’s population was 400. The decision to leave that idyllic, rural spot was in part due to the distance from family, as well as the arduous and time-consuming task of traveling. “It was four hours to the nearest airport,” Chef Bradshaw says. “Plus, I realized we saw our sons only twice last year.” His aging mom in Connecticut was finding the travel tedious, as well.
So began the search to go east, which thankfully for the Quechee Club resulted in the executive chef position.
“It just felt good,” Chef Bradshaw says after visiting Quechee.
The appeal of Vermont
“This area they [promotional material] call rural feels metropolitan compared to our last post,” he says. Chef Bradshaw has lived and worked in wonderful cities north, south, east, and west: Washington DC, Charlottesville VA, Sarasota and Longboat Key in Florida, New Orleans, and Albuquerque NM. He likes winter, but sold his snowmobiles before moving to Vermont. “Perhaps I’ll get one next winter.” He no longer skis, yet he and his wife, Caroline, enjoy many outdoor activities, including exploring and camping.
Dining out and exploring local food sources is a pastime for the couple, and I asked him what kind of food he seeks on a night off. “We have enjoyed Yama’s on Main Street in Lebanon. They have really great Korean food,” he says. His work experiences across the country exposed him to many different cuisines like Southern, Asian, and the flavors of the Southwest.
He’s also visited the Farmers Market in Woodstock and was impressed, especially with the selection of Vermont cheeses. And he finds Jake’s and Singleton’s to be convenient and stocked with local produce and products, which is a plus.
His education in cooking started early
A member of the James Beard Foundation, he is certified by the American Culinary Federation as an executive chef, as well as a certified culinary administrator. Bradshaw got his formal training at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. The American Culinary Federation is the country’s largest organization for professional chefs. But his lessons in cooking started long before that. At 13 years old, he worked as a line cook in his native Connecticut.
“Not too many people were interested in becoming a chef when I first started in the eighties,” Chef Bradshaw says. Despite many challenges during his career, he’s never turned back.
In each position, Chef Bradshaw keeps learning and keeps teaching. His belief is that what matters most is not what he accomplishes in the kitchen, but what he inspires others to achieve. He has been involved in culinary programs in advisory as well as hands-on roles, including maintaining and strengthening the culinary apprentice program in Washington State.
Settling into Quechee
Michelle Dougherty, Quechee’s club manager, will attest to Chef Bradshaw’s dive into teaching. “Chef Bradshaw is fabulous. The staff loves his positive input,” she says, and adds, “He’s got the kind of skills and experience that we need, and he can manage and administer. We are so lucky to have him. He just gets it,” she says.
He wants to start an apprentice chef program at the Quechee Club, which he explains will take some time and research. There’s already interest from some employees about apprenticing with him to become chefs.
The new chef has already added his mark to the menu at Davidson’s, the main restaurant at the Quechee Club. To showcase the Vermont cheeses he describes as “soft with big flavor,” he created a new appetizer. He’s also added a crab-stuffed shrimp appetizer and a veal entrée, to name a few of the changes. “I tend towards food that is bold and low fat,” he says.
Chef Bradshaw wants members to know that he’s always interested in hearing from them regarding their meal choices and general experience dining at the Quechee Club.